Hello, are you looking into starting intermittent fasting and are by chance a female? You have come to the right article.
In this article I am going to give you some new evidence surrounding women on intermittent fasting and write a detailed article.
Here are the topics we are going to cover in this article:
- Benefits of I.F.
- Why fasting works so well for women
- Rejuvenation and stem cells
- What you need to do before you start a fast?
- What you can consume during a fast?
- What does break a fast?
- The fat adaptation period
- Cortisol lowering effects
- What to do shortly before you break a fast?
- What you should and should not break your fast with?
- Important vitamins and minerals for women
- How to time your workout?
- Possible side effects
- Frequency of fasting (how long and how often)
- Vital tips for fasting
Benefits of I.F.
One of the big benefits of fasting is the mental benefits. This is due to the large degree of ketones bodies being released into the blood stream. Ketones are a tremendous fuel for the brain. Many people think that you can only get into ketosis while on the keto diet. Not true, fasting also accomplishes this.
Brain fog is almost totally gone when your brain is running on ketones instead of glucose. Ketones have the unique abiliy to cross through the blood brain barrier and decrease brain inflammation, and so decreasing the brain fog you normally get after 2 P.M.
The fat loss benefits are also powerful. When you are fasting your body is “stressed”. By being stressed your body releases adrenaline. Adrenaline is actually not that bad because it triggers something called hormone sensitive lipase to kick start the fat burning process.
There was study published from The American Journal of Applied Physiology that found that women burn more fat than men from adrenaline. Adrenaline in women is more potent than men’s. Women also have more fats readily available to burn as energy than men.
Why fasting works so well for women?
To this day many people including women still believe that women should not be fasting. Because women have reproductive system, people tend to believe that women should always be fed.
It is actually the opposite. The female body is designed to protect a potential fetus in situations of not getting any food. Women are actually better built for intermittent fasting opposite to men.
There was a study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Nutrition that proved that women utilizes lipids (fat) better than men. It found that when exercising women would recruit more fat for utilization than men.
The study also found that women would oxidize less protein and carbohydrates than men. This means that women’s bodies do not break don’t muscle as men do.
In conclusion of looking at this evidence, women are better suited for intermittent fasting than men contrary to popular belief.
Rejuvenation and stem cells.
There is also the rejuvenating benefit. You can not tell me that women are not obsessed with there appearance and especially when it comes to not only feeling but looking younger, despite their age.
Fasting increases the amount of immune system stem cells. In other words fasting can recharge and rejuvenate your immune system.
Fasting also causes autophagy. Autophagy is a fancy word for self-eating. What autophagy does is clean your body old and damaged cells that can in fact turn in to tumors and cancer. You can read more on the benefits of autophagy in this article.
What you need to do before you start a fast?
There are 3 ways you can start to fast.
There is the 12-12 method, where you do not eat for 12 hours and fast for the remainder 12 hours. This is a great way to get started. There are also benefits like a reset of your gut micro-bio.
The 16-8 method is where you fast for 16 hours and eat in an 8-hour window. Yes at first this seemed impossible too. I recommend getting use to the 12-12 first, however long that will take. The benefits are also an improvement in the gut bacteria, when you are not on the keto diet (which when you are makes fasting 100 times easier) you will also get a light keto effect.
ketones are the best fuel for the brain and burns cleaner than glucose.
Insulin fast is also benefit that you get from fasting 16 hours or beyond, You give your body the chance to reduce your insulin instead of constantly having high levels of insulin. High insulin levels have been linked to …………….
Last method is the 20-4 fast. This method is more about a big surge of ketones. This method is great for therapeutic reasons more so than just fat burning. When you fast for 20 hours or more you get massive benefits of the body and mind rejuvenation effect.
To read more on the keto diet for women check this article out: Keto diet plan for women.
The best method to start a fast is to not eat a big meal before you start to keep leptin levels low to have the best effect. Going keto before fasting also helps keep leptin levels down. (leptin regulates your metabolism). In other words eat a low carb high protein/fat diet.
What you can consume during a fast?
- Black coffee (no creamer or sweeteners) Stevia is OK
- ACV (apple cider vinegar)
- salt (add to water to help replenish minerals)
- Stevia flavored drinks are OK just make sure no other ingredients like maltodextrin.
- Stevia and monk fruit in small amounts
- Carbon drinks
- Little of lemon juice is OK (freshly squeezed)
What does break a fast?
Anything that raises insulin levels will break your fast. Just keep it simple and consume only the items mentioned on the list above. Just remember to stay hydrated.
Insulin will stop the fat burning process and also stop authophagy.
The fat adaptation period.
Women tend to take longer to adapt to burning fat.
Fasting is stressful on your body. Your body is now going through a phase of using fat as fuel instead of glucose. This is very stressful on the body.
The effect of this is that stress will raise cortisone levels in the body (stress hormone). Cortisone can trigger fat accumulation which in turn leads to more estrogen. Estrogen also releases cortisone and this cycle is what is causing you to stall until you get fat/ adapted.
This cycle repeats itself until the body get’s used to it. It can vary greatly from person to person. I had a female friend that had little to no weight loss for about 2 months. She kept at it and eventually lost a massive amount of weight.
Cortisol lowering effect.
What is cortisol? Cortisol is a steroid hormone that regulates a wide range of processes throughout the body, including metabolism and the immune response . Cortisol also has a very important role in helping the body respond to stress.
Cortisol has a bad rep because most people relate cortisol to stress. But the truth is that low and high cortisol levels can both have the negative side effect.
When you are fasting cortisol levels are going to be elevated because the body is going to be under a lot of stress.
- High cortisol levels + fasting = fat burning.
- High cortisol levels + food = fat storage.
So cortisol is not that bad when you are fasting.
What to do shortly before you break a fast?
As stated above, when you are in fasting mode your body is under a lot of stress and cortisol levels are going to be high, especially at the end of a fast.
This is why when breaking your fast you should be careful what you are breaking your fast with.
Drink some water with added salt OR TEa with some cinnamon. This will help with the lowering of cortisol. This prevents your body to go into full body fat storage with the meal your about to eat after the fast.
What you should and should not break your fast with?
Breaking a fast is actually more important than the fasting period itself believe it or not.
Let’s start with the things you should avoid breaking a fast with.
- Seasoning that include both onions and garlic
- Nothing containing fibers especially pre-biotic fiber (veggies)
- Dairy (protein shakes) dairy is also highly inflammatory.
- Avoid combining fat and carbs when breaking a fast.
The reason for not eating veggies after a fast is that you have good and bad bacteria in your gut. At the end of your fast period, your bad bacteria is probably going to be more elevated that your good bacteria. By eating these fibers you will feed the bad bacteria more than the good one.
Lean protein is the way to break your fast.
This is especially important in women. What are the kinds of lean protein foods that you can consume?
- Lean (low fat) red meat
- Chicken breast
Make sure it is a good quality lean protein (grass fed/finished).
Breaking your fast is super important because the body is really sensitive at this time. NO GLUTEN!!
Eat a piece of lean meat an hour before eating your regular scheduled meal. This is very important to help your body be more receptive and ready for the rest of the normal foods that you are going to consume. So remember!! No veggies after a fast.
Breaking your fast with bone broth is also great. This will help rebuild your gut layer and also prepare it for the upcoming meal.
Important vitamins and minerals for women.
Vitamin D is very important for women being that vitamin D tends to be lower in women than in men. You can get vitamin D from eggs, fish, shellfish, meats and supplements.
Zinc is also very important for women (fish and shellfish). The reason is that Zinc will act as a receptor for the thyroid hormone. Without this receptor, the thyroid hormone will just float around useless in the body.
Iodine is also very important for women and the thyroid. Seaweed or nori helps a lot when it comes to the thyroid.
Fasting causes you to lose more minerals than normal and may slow your thyroid, so it is important to get these levels of minerals back on track to support it.
How to workout.
Just workout normally. If you tend to workout hard, do that. If you get to the point that you can not go as hard as before, just tone it down a bit, until your body gets used to the eating intervals.
If you are trying to maximize your fat loss, definitely workout in a fasted state. For really shredding fat loss, workout at the end of your fast period.
If fat loss is not your goal and just want to put on some muscle, workout after you have eaten.
Possible side effect.
You might get cold. This is normal because your blood flow is going to your fat tissue to convert it to usable brown fat.
Headaches are also common. This is when you are not use to going long periods for long periods of time. It’s almost like a keto flu. Your blood glucose levels go down (which is a good thing) and you may feel light-headed.
Bloating is also a common side effect. Do not eat veggies and high amounts of fiber. Your gut is sensitive after a fast.
Sleeplessness is really just adrenaline due to respond to the body stress. But you can get away with sleeping less while fasting.
Frequency of fasting (how long and how often)
Women should not fast every single day. Many people do think that doing the 16-8 method 7 days a week is OK, but it can lead to eating disorders and other bad habits down the road. Fasting everyday will also slow your metabolism.
I recommend fasting 3 to 4 times a week, alternate day fasting is the way to go.
If you want to do a longer period fast, let’s say 36 to 48 hours, do that once a month is fine.
Slow and steady wins the race, do not go full-blown just to get rid of the desired weight quickly as it can backfire. I know many people whom have lost a lot of weight quickly and gained it back ever quicker. Give your body the chance to get used to fasting and after a while it will become normal.
Vital tips for fasting.
- Consume a tiny amount of soy. But do it in moderation. Women can have more estrogen than men. This will help the absorption of estrogen in the long run.
- Control your caffeine intake. When you are fasting as mentioned above you body is going to be under stress. Caffeine only adds to that stress. Women tend to be more sensitive to stress.
- Do not fast every single day. This also has to do with stress levels being high.
- important to keep weight training while fasting. This will help to keep your muscle mass.
- Add potassium supplement when fasting.
- Women are much more sensitive to dairy when fasting. If you do consume dairy (cheese, butter, milk, yogurt) get the organic ones. This has to do with being more prone to breast cancer.
Men and women are different from each other physically and hormonally . To treat men and women the same is not a great way to go about it.
Follow this guide and you will lose that desired weight you always want to lose.
I wish you luck on your journey and do not give up.